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Soul Searching: What It Means and 35 Signs & Secrets to Find Your Calling

If you’re feeling lost in life and don’t know what to do, then it’s time to do some soul-searching. If you want to know how to do it, here’s your guide.

soul searching

Everyone tells you to do what makes you happy, but that’s easier said than done. What honestly makes you happy? It’s a tough question to answer because most of us have no idea. Which is why we need to know how to soul-search.

Okay, sure, we have things in our lives that make us happy, but most of the time, they’re not things we picture ourselves doing more seriously. On the other hand, maybe we could imagine ourselves doing our hobbies as a career. 

However, we’re not sure how to get it to that level. It’s not easy to figure these things out, especially when you must support yourself in your daily life at the same time. [Read: How to turn around the negativity and find the silver lining]

What is soul-searching?

Soul-searching is a process that a person goes through when they examine their own life, motives, and values. However, it can mean different things to different people.

For some people, soul-searching means finding their authentic selves, improving themselves, or getting their life together. Essentially, it means when a person goes deep within themselves to find answers about their life purpose.

This involves analyzing their life, emotions, decisions, and actions before taking any more steps in life. [Read: What is my purpose in life? 33 secrets to find meaning when you feel lost]

It could all start with a simple question such as, “Is this the career I really want?” or “Is this where I really want to live?” Then, the self-reflection continues and the person digs deeper into themselves.

Once the person discovers the answers to all their questions, they emerge as a new person. So, soul-searching is a decision to take a step back from life and pay attention to yourself with the goal of living a happy and fulfilling life.

The purpose of soul-searching

When people feel like their life is out of sync, they’re in a rut or they have negative feelings about their life, that’s when they usually engage in soul-searching. [Read: 30 secrets to start over a new life and leave your past for a new adventure]

For example, if you feel unmotivated in your career or feel like your relationship isn’t working like you’d like it to, then it’s time to do some soul-searching. 

So, essentially, the purpose of soul-searching is to change your life for the better.

And one of the only ways to change your life for the better is to take a long, hard look at yourself and your life. [Read: 48 real secrets to change your life and find the right path when you’re lost]

That’s because knowing your core values and passions makes your life easier and happier overall.

What it means to “lose your soul” and why it happens

One of the reasons people might start to do some soul-searching is if they suffer a major loss or experience overwhelming negative emotions. 

Most people these days are conditioned to live by their ego and ignore their souls completely. When they do this, a lot of negative qualities can emerge such as greed, jealousy, and fear. [Read: Free spirit – what it means and 40 sins and ways to enjoy the flow of life]

So, experiencing “losing your soul” is like losing part of your living essence. It hides or suppresses our true nature and life potential.

A soul loss can occur because of experiences like this:

1. Childhood trauma

2. Substance abuse

3. Stress

4. Depression

5. Mental illness

6. Adult trauma

7. Overuse of social media, video games, or other technologies

8. Losing a loved one

9. Materialism and greed

10. Addictions of any kind

When one or more of these things are experienced in life, then a person can lose parts of themselves – hence, a soul loss. These people usually feel lost in their personal and professional lives. [Read: Life’s a bitch – why it feels that way and 18 feel-good ways to feel and live better]

Signs you need to do some soul-searching

Now that you know what soul-searching is and what “losing your soul” means, you might be wondering if you should do some searching yourself. Here are a couple of indications that you should.

1. You’re constantly questioning your path and dreaming about alternative ones

If you aren’t very satisfied with various parts of your life *or all of them*, then you should do some soul-searching. Life is meant to be happy and enjoyed. So, if you’re questioning whether or not your life is on the right track, then it’s probably not.

2. Feelings of being stuck

Maybe you feel like you’re stuck in a rut or have a dead-end job or relationship. If you have this overwhelming feeling of your life going nowhere, then it is definitely time to do some soul-searching.

You can’t make any positive changes without it. [Read: Feeling stuck in life? How to change direction and live your dream]

How do you heal your soul?

Healing your soul starts with a decision to do it. Without that determination and drive, then it won’t happen. It all starts with commitment.

In order to have a deep, true, and lasting healing of your soul and mind requires honoring yourself as a person – both your human and spiritual side. 

If you’re feeling sad, depressed, anxious, or angry, then realize that these messages have powerful messages for you. Pay attention to them, and then they can help guide you toward your ultimate destiny. [Read: 34 secrets to stop being lazy, find the reasons WHY, and overcome the excuses

Remember, what you focus on expands and persists in your life. It’s important to honor how you feel, go within yourself, do the healing, and allow yourself to expand into a new cycle of personal and spiritual growth.

Be emotionally and mentally prepared to release your old life and embrace and welcome everything new that comes. Let go of your past and accept that a wonderful new life is waiting for you.

How to soul-search and look within

So, with all this said, it’s time to do some soul-searching. Whether you waver on what you want to do, or you’re completely lost, looking within usually is the best way to see what you really need. [Read: 28 self-improvement secrets to improve yourself and transform into your best self]

But soul-searching doesn’t mean you join a yoga retreat or only eat soya beans.

Soul-searching can be done in a variety of ways and flow into your lifestyle. But of course, you need to know the ways to do it. It’s not all kumbaya.

1. It’s not going to happen overnight

We all want things now, now, now. Well, sorry to tell you, but it ain’t going to happen like that. If you want to truly work on finding yourself and what fulfills you, it’s going to take time. [Read: 21 ways to find your inner happiness]

For some, it takes weeks or months, while for others years. There’s no equation for this or a simple answer. Soul-searching takes work and patience.

2. Ask yourself questions

You need to find out more about yourself. So, ask yourself questions. The only way to soul-search is to look within. You need to look at what interests you, what interested you as a child, and what you need in your life.

Usually, the things that fulfill your life, you already do but you don’t realize it. Though it’s not always going to be black and white, there may be a couple of things you love, so maybe you can mash them up together. [Read: Life questions to help you visualize your future]

3. What are your natural talents? 

Ask your family and friends this question as you see yourself much differently than the people around you. You may be surprised at some of the qualities they’ll tell you that you have. 

Ask them what they come to you for, maybe you’re good at giving advice or making them laugh.

4. Find the sweet spot

This means you want to look at two and three again, seeing if there’s something that compiles everything. This is called the sweet spot. It’s the best of both worlds. [Read: Feeling worthless? 28 causes, signs, and daily habits to change your mind and life]

In order to find this, look at the intersection of the areas. Maybe you like films, drawing, what about animation? See? Find the sweet spot where your talents and wishes meet up.

5. Don’t focus too much on it

Of course, you want to find out what fulfills you, but don’t spend every day and night focused on it. If you look too deeply into it all the time, you’re going to exhaust yourself and completely turn yourself off from the idea. 

Take breaks, reflect on what you’ve accomplished thus far, and then continue. There’s no time limit to this. [Read: 52 happy habits and ways to find happiness within yourself and feel better]

6. Ditch the things that don’t make you happy

Learning how to soul-search can be a challenge if you’re surrounded by things that don’t provide joy. So, ditch the things around you that aren’t serving you.

Whether it’s relationships or activities, whatever it is, skip it. Part of finding yourself is removing the things from your life that no longer serve you. [Read: Stop pleasing people and feel awesome instead]

7. Don’t think about making huge goals

Though goals help us achieve great things, if too big, they create stress, causing us to lose motivation. Keep the goals small. 

So, if you have a list of things you want to try, do one at a time and see which activity brings you joy. Don’t make these unachievable goals. It’s not going to happen like that.

8. Work on inspiring yourself

If you’re unsure where to start, begin by watching a movie or reading a book. You don’t have to bungee jump or do anything extreme. [Read: Simple ways to inspire the people around you]

All you need to do is surround yourself with things that expand your thoughts. Right now, you’re stuck in this small circle of thoughts. Expand your mind, and you’ll experience new and refreshing things.

9. You may not always be right

There may be some things that you’re going to do that at one point you thought were right. But now, you realize that they’re not. 

This doesn’t mean you’re a failure, it just means you’ve learned from your mistakes. Acknowledge, accept, and forgive yourself. If you’re stuck on something, you won’t be able to develop yourself. [Read: How to stop feeling sorry for yourself]

10. Don’t think about your age

It’s easy for us to prevent ourselves from trying something new because of our age. So, what if you’re 26 or 56 or 86? 

If you want to try something new that you think will give you happiness, do it. Don’t let your age hinder your ability to make yourself happy. That’s a lame excuse and you know it.

11. Start it as a hobby

You don’t have to do something full force right away. Instead, start out as a hobby and see how it goes. You don’t want to put so much pressure on yourself, but rather let it flow into your life. [Read: How to respect yourself – 37 secrets of self-respect, self-belief, and self-love]

If you think that your soul’s desires are met by this, activity think about expanding it into something you do full-time. But until then, just enjoy it.

12. Look back at your childhood

Many things that we loved to do during our childhood were activities that lightened and heightened our souls. However, through age, peer pressure, or our parents telling us what we need to do, those joys were pushed to the side.

Try those activities again and see where they go. You haven’t changed that much from your childhood, not as much as you think. [Read: Steps to unfake your life and be yourself]

13. Don’t give up

You’ll want to give up multiple times throughout the experience. Why? Because you’re going to face some personal truths and obstacles that you probably avoid. 

Soul-searching requires not quitting, especially when it’s not easy. You need to power through. [Read: Who are you? How to fine-tune your internal compass]

14. Take inventory

You should reflect on what’s working and not working in your life. This might seem like an easy thing to do, but some people just aren’t very aware of the details of their life. They just go through the motions without a lot of deep thought.

In order to do this, you might want to write it all down. Sure, going over it in your head helps, but putting things on paper allows you to see everything more objectively.

15. Ask for guidance

If you are a spiritual or religious person, then you can ask for guidance from the spiritual power you believe in. It could be God, Buddha, the Universe, or guardian angels. [Read: Old soul – what it is & 39 traits and signs you’re wise beyond your years]

Many people have been helped in their life by asking for guidance from their higher power. So, this is a great way to gain some clarity in your life. 

16. Spend time alone with your thoughts 

We live in such a busy and noisy society. There are too many daily distractions such as social media, TV, video games, work, and everything else under the sun.

So, you should make a conscious effort to slow your life down so you can actually hear and monitor your own thoughts. Write them down so you can keep track of them and eventually reflect on them. [Read: 25 honest, self-reflection questions to recognize the real YOU inside]

17. Make time for reflection

Spending time with your thoughts is part of the reflection process. But if your life is so busy and you don’t make time for it, then it will get you nowhere.

Schedule the reflection time if you have to. In other words, actually put it in your calendar or set an alarm to remind yourself to do it. You can’t do soul-searching without self-reflection. 

18. Enlist support

You don’t have to do this all by yourself. In fact, it helps when you have a friend or loved one helping you along the way. They can encourage you and help you with self-reflection. [Read: True friendship – 37 real friend traits and what it takes to be a good one]

Even better, if your friend wants to do some soul-searching along with you, then you can do it together. It helps to have a buddy and someone in your life to hold you accountable.

19. Explore holistic healing principles

Most medical treatments are rooted in allopathic approaches, such as surgery and pills. While this is appropriate sometimes, it’s also important to explore other alternatives.

So, try researching holistic healing principles too. Many people are big advocates of non-mainstream healing modalities, and you should try some yourself.

20. Tap into your intuition

Everyone is born with intuition, but our world tends to teach us to ignore it. We grow to believe that it’s not accurate and that our logic is more reliable. [Read: Gut instinct – what it is, how it works, and 30 tips to follow and listen to your gut]

However, your gut instinct is rarely wrong. So, be brave and follow it. It’s there for a reason, and it’s the perfect tool for soul-searching. 

21. Build meaningful relationships

No one is meant to walk through life alone. So, not only is it important to have relationships in your life, it’s more important to have meaningful ones.

Too many people are in toxic or unhealthy relationships. But part of soul-searching is cutting those people out and surrounding yourself with positive, uplifting, and loving people instead. [Read: 26 whys and ways to surround yourself with positive people and remodel your life]

Soul-searching destinations to visit

Some people do soul-searching right in the comfort of their own homes. However, other people with the means to do it travel the world in order to search for life’s answers. This is just what happened in the movie, Eat, Pray, Love.

So, you can go discover just how beautiful it is to be alive. If you’re stumped about where to go, here are 12 recommended travel destinations for some much-needed wanderlusting and soul-searching.

1. Sarawak, Malaysia

Sure, there are lakes, caves, jungles, and mountains to see in Sarawak, but the main focus of this trip is to experience how man and nature can live as one. Pay a visit to the Penan people and live with them for several weeks. [Read: The biggest myths of traveling alone – my personal experience]

They are a nomadic aboriginal tribe who call the rainforest of Borneo home, and they are one of the last few people on earth who live a hunter-gatherer lifestyle.

See for yourself how deforestation affects their simple way of life and learn firsthand what it takes to survive in a cruel and selfish world. 

You will get the privilege to live with them, learn their survival techniques, and embrace their loving and giving culture. [Read: 15 reasons why you should travel at least once a year]

And you’ll also be overwhelmed by how much kindness there is in people who live life unmarred by the evils of money, government, and the outside world.

2. Taiga, Mongolia

When one thinks of Mongolia, one can’t help but envision Genghis Khan and his fierce army riding across endless plains. Mongolia today is very much like it was eons ago, sans Genghis, of course.

What remains is untouched nature and the Dukha. They are nomadic reindeer herders who are strong advocates of their ancient way of life. [Read: Reasons why travel is a great test of compatibility]

As long as you do not disrupt their herding and nomadic patterns, this community welcomes visitors to stay with them for up to 3 days. Learn their fascinating history and traditions firsthand and discover what it is really like to live off the grid.

3. Varanasi, India

If spirituality is what you seek, then India is where you need to head to – specifically Varanasi, a holy city perched on the Northern banks of the Ganges River. 

This city has played a vital role in the development of both Hinduism and Buddhism, and today, over 28% of its inhabitants are Muslim. [Read: The pros and cons of dating someone who travels a lot]

This makes for a wonderful spiritual and religious voyage and is not to be missed. Overlap your trip with one of the many festivals that take place, such as the five-day musical festival known as Dhrupad Mela and Nag Nathaiya which celebrates mythological tradition.

Keep in mind that your senses will be overwhelmed by the barrage of sights, sounds, and smells there. From rotting corpses to the sickly sweet smell of jasmine flowers, this is not a trip for the faint of heart.

4. Mount Koya, Japan

Mount Koya boasts eight peaks and is known as one of the most spiritual places in Japan. Pilgrims travel from far and wide to pay homage to the serenity of the mountain. [Read: Why it’s so great to be single in your 20s]

You will come across everything from purification ceremonies to moss-covered tombstones, but no matter what you see, you can be sure that every aspect of it will be steeped in spirituality.

There are hundreds of temples in the area, many of which offer lodging and vegetarian meals to travelers, so take your pick and live like a monk for as long as you can.

5. Green Island, Taiwan

The East coast of Taiwan remains generally untouched, and what more, a small volcanic island that lies just off of it? [Read: Tips to have a great time when you travel as a couple]

Its magnificent geographical landscape, natural beauty, and rich cultural background as the base of the aboriginal Amis folk make it a wonderful place to explore on your own. Scuba dive, hike, swim, and enjoy great seafood when you’re on Green Island.

This rock is also home to one of only three saltwater hot springs in the world. Head over at night for a soak, and be sure to look up at the stars. No matter what problems need solving, you will find a solution right there and then. At the very least, you will be at peace.

6. Koh Phangan, Thailand 

Whoever said that a soul-searching trip has to take place on a deserted island with zero signs of social life is a wet blanket. [Read: Is it too soon to start traveling with your partner?]

Take back your power and check out one of Koh Phangan’s many parties that take place every night, all of which lead up to the monthly Full Moon Party that takes place on Haad Rin Beach.

If you need to take a break from partying, step away from the madding crowd, and head north. Zone out at one of the many yoga retreats, meditation camps, and laid-back bed and breakfasts peppered along the coast. 

Sometimes, when you are searching for yourself, all it takes is a deep breath and a chance encounter with a fellow wanderer for everything to fall into place. [Read: Easy ways to find your holiday hookup]

7. Bali, Indonesia

Bali offers inspiring spirituality, happy people, and a unique sense of identity. Sure, there is nothing spiritual about go-go dancers and drunk tourists who call Kuta Beach their base camp, so be sure to venture past that for a truly Balinese experience.

Check yourself into a bed and breakfast in Ubud. Filled to the brim with breathtaking rice paddies, local boutiques, spas, art galleries, and delectable local restaurants, there is no place on earth quite like it. 

Other untouched areas include Sanur and anywhere north of Ubud. [Read: Soul connection – what it means, the types, and 16 signs to find and recognize it]

8. Mount Kailash, Tibet

For stillness of the mind and peace of heart, head to Mount Kailash in the Himalayas. 

Buddhism, Hinduism, Jainism, and Bon hail this place as being the most sacred on earth, and many believe that Mount Kailash is the ultimate paradise and serves as the final resting place for wandering souls.

If possible, join pilgrims who make the centuries-old annual pilgrimage to walk around the sacred mountain of Kailash. [Read: 42 reasons, types, signs, and steps to stop lying to yourself and everyone else]

It is taboo to actually climb the mountain, so if you intend to set foot on its slopes, be sure not to do so during the annual pilgrimage.

9. Sulawesi, Indonesia

You could head to Bira, a coastal area located 5 hours away from the closest airport in Makassar. You can stay in a basic dive camp and indulge in remarkable scuba diving for 10 days straight. 

Although there are zero signs of luxury living, the diving conditions are pristine and the beach is one of the best that you will ever visit. [Read: Feel like a failure? 23 truths to stop feeling defeated and find your way]

Because of how secluded it is, you will probably only come across a handful of like-minded travelers during your stay there, making it the perfect place to unplug and live simply. Internet connection is spotty, and so is cell phone service. 

You will feel like you were given the rare chance to live off the grid without actually falling off it. Living this way will certainly put things into perspective.

10. Maasai Mara, Kenya

Although this trip won’t come cheap, it will be an experience unlike any other. The Maasai Mara National Reserve in Kenya is a huge game reserve that is connected to the Serengeti National Park in neighboring Tanzania. [Read: The pros and cons of being attached to our gadgets]

It is renowned for the Great Migration, an epic annual migration of over 2 million animals such as wildebeest, elands, gazelles, zebras, lions, and cheetahs to and from the Serengeti.

Starting in July of each year, the animals migrate north from the plains of Serengeti in search of lush feeding grounds further south. In October, they make the long journey back up north, traversing a migratory path that spans 6,000 kilometers. 

This wildlife sanctuary is a must-visit if you want to be in awe of the incredible natural occurrences that make up the circle of life. [Read: Imposter syndrome – 36 signs, causes, types, and ways to stop feeling fake]

11. Trans-Siberian Railway

Writers, poets, and curious travelers from all over the world have claimed the Trans-Siberian railway to be one of the most fascinating journeys that one can take. It is the longest railway line in the world and the third longest continuous journey that one could make by rail. 

The complex network links hundreds of remote cities and connects Moscow with the mostly unexplored Russian Far East and the Sea of Japan.

Stretching over 9,259 kilometers long, the railway crosses seven time zones, and depending on which of the three routes you opt for, takes up to 9 days to complete. [Read: Emotionally damaged – how people get that way, 26 signs and how to heal from it]

Keep in mind that this isn’t a hop-on, hop-off affair, so unless you want to spend more than a week without getting off the train, be sure to break up your journey and purchase separate tickets for different legs.

12. Dades Valley, Morocco

You need to venture much further than Marrakech and Casablanca to get a true taste of Moroccan life and culture by trekking with a nomadic Berber family. [Read: Nothing makes me happy – secrets to make happiness your default state]

Not only will you be welcomed as a family member, but you will also be accompanied by hundreds of sheep, goats, camels, mules, and dogs on your journey.

Known as the annual Berber migration, this life-changing 6-day trek through Dades Valley will bring you over the snow line to the pastures of High Atlas. 

You are expected to camp and dine under the stars and pull your weight every step of the way. There is no doubt that you will be reminded of how valuable time is, and you can take solace in reflecting on the wonders of living a life free from convention.

[Read: Tips to have a great time when you travel as a couple]

Learning how to soul-search isn’t easy, and there’s no timeline to follow, which is the hardest part. But, with patience and dedication, you’ll see what you really want.

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Carol Morgan LP
Dr. Carol Morgan
Dr. Carol Morgan has a Ph.D. in communication and is a professor at Wright State University where she loves corrupting young minds. As a relationship and succes...